Nicknamed "Spiderman," Alain Robert is the world's only extreme solo climber, free climbing high rocks and up the flat, smooth glass surfaces of skyscrapers. Climbers such as George "the Human Fly" Willig climbed the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 1977 but did it using clamping devices that fit into the steel tracks running up and down the building's exterior that are used to guide window washing equipment. In 1981, "Spider Dan" Goodwin climbed the glass of the Sears Tower and the Hancock building in Chicago using suction cups. However, Alain Robert is the only extreme climber in the world who uses no safety devices of any kind. Using only his bare hands and feet, Alain Robert has scaled more than 70 giant structures around the globe including many of the world's tallest structures.
Robert began climbing as a young boy, scaling rock cliffs in the area around his home. His buildering career began at the age of 12 when he forgot his keys and was locked out of his parents' apartment. Instead of waiting for them to come home, young Alain simply scaled the exterior wall to his eighth floor home. As his skills improved, he kept taking on more and more challenging structures. Because the authorities would not give him permission for such a dangerous exploit, Alain Robert would suddenly appear, usually at dawn, on the side of a giant skyscraper in cities around the world where thousands of onlookers would stop in awe of what was happening. As a result, he has been arrested in various countries many times by police waiting at the building's top. The arrests and trials are little more than quick formalities and he is always discharged.
His exploits brought him worldwide media exposure and as his reputation grew, speculation began as to whether or not he would attempt the world's tallest building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While Malaysian authorities were expecting it, they were still astonished when one day in 1997 he suddenly appeared several floors up on the side of the Petronas Tower on his way to the top.
While scaling the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois in 1999, he encountered the most challenging climbing conditions in his career. Near the top of the 110 story building, a thick fog set in that covered the glass and metal wall of the last 20 floors with moisture making it dangerously slippery. Although the climb became agonizingly slow and very strenuous, Alain Robert overcame it and safely reached the top.
There is an award-winning documentary about him titled Alain Robert is Spiderman .
A few of the more than 70 skyscrapers and monuments climbed by Alain Robert:
- Sydney, Australia – Center Point Tower and the Sydney Opera House
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Hotel Vermont
- Montreal, Canada – Crown Plaza Hotel
Hong Kong, China
- ATV Asia Building
- Nec Building
- The Far East Financial Center
- London, England
- Paris, France
- Frankfurt, Germany – Dresdner Bank Tower
- Milan, Italy - Banca di Milano building
- Tokyo, Japan – Shinjuku Tower
- Warsaw, Poland – Marriott Hotel
- Johannesburg, South Africa – IBM Tower
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - National Bank of Abu Dhabi
- United States of America
- Tampere, Finland Hotel Ilves
- Official Website - includes a number of spectacular photos